Spring Cleaning Safety
6 Tips To Help You Tidy Up Electrical Hazards
It’s that time of year again. The birds are coming out, trees are beginning to grow buds, and the outside temperature is finally warming up. For many of us, it also means it’s time for spring cleaning. It’s time to bust out the vacuum, mop, and feather duster to do a serious deep cleaning of our homes. However, it’s also a great time to do another sort of cleaning—taking care of any electrical hazards that might be in your home. Our service experts have assembled their top tips on electrical spring cleaning.
Test All GFCIs and AFCI Outlets In Your Home
You might be surprised to find out that these types of outlets don’t last forever. The industry standard for changing out GFCIs is around 15 years, while AFCIs should be changed roughly every 30 years. However, these lifespans can be affected by heavy usage, incorrect installation, or damage to the electrical system. Check out this article for a more in depth discussion on how these outlets work.
The best way to ensure that your home is protected is to test each outlet at least a few times each year. There are different procedures for testing depending on whether the outlet Is GFCI or AFCI. When testing a GFCI outlet, you will go to each outlet; if testing AFCI, you will go to your electrical panel. These outlets utilize specific AFCI breakers for their safety mechanism.
Testing A GFCI Outlet
- Press down on the “RESET” button.
- Plug in a lamp or other similar device. At this point, the light should be ON.
- Press down on the “TEST” button. This should turn the light OFF.
- Push the “RESET” button again. The light should turn back ON.
- If pushing the “TEST” button did not turn the light OFF, the outlet is not working correctly. Contact a licensed electrician to repair or replace it.
Testing AFCI Breakers
- Leave lights, and other devices ON that are on the AFCI breaker.
- Locate your electrical panel.
- With at least one light or another device on and the breaker in the on position, press down on the AFCI “TEST” button.
- The AFCI breaker should trip and move to the OFF position (or to the “TRIP” position if it has one). If it trips when you press the “TEST” button, the AFCI is working.
- Make sure to flip the breaker switch all the way OFF before turning it back ON.
- Repeat these steps for every AFCI breaker in your electrical panel. If any breakers do not trip, contact a licensed electrician as soon as possible to replace them.
Replace Incorrect Light Bulbs
This tip is especially important if you live in a house or apartment with light bulbs put in by the previous owners. Go around and check all of your lightbulbs to ensure that they are the correct wattage for the appliance that they are plugged into. They should always be equal to or less than the manufacturer’s recommendations, which should be listed on each fixture. When the wattage is too high, it puts your lights at risk of becoming damaged or even turn it into a fire risk. Also, make sure that you are using any CFL bulbs correctly. Putting them into dimmers, recessed lighting, or track lighting can also result in a fire.
Plan Before You Dig
Springtime is the most common time to change out landscaping or put in a new fence or garden. However, before you get too invested in digging out that new flower bed you’ve been itching to add, make sure to call 811 (if you live in the United States) before you dig. This service will connect you with your utility providers and send out representatives to mark where all your utilities are buried, so you don’t accidentally hit one of them. Before calling, you will need to know the address of where you plan to dig and the type and location of the project you are completing.
Inspect And Organize Your Extension Cords
The chances are that the last time you pulled out all of your extension cords was around Christmas. And let’s be honest, you probably didn’t give them much of a look over before putting them away, right? Before you get them back out, make sure to inspect each one closely for any cuts, exposed wire, or other damage to protect yourself from shock or fire hazards.
It would be best if you took a look at your in-use cords for the same reason. Have you looked at the wires behind your TV or computer recently? Are they neat and tidy, or has it devolved into a rat’s nest? Take a minute to organize them and bundle up any loose cords to help prevent any fire hazards. If anything else, it will also help to keep you from guessing wrong and accidentally unplugging the wrong device.
Test Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Always test these devices every few months to ensure they are functioning correctly and replace the batteries at least once a year. To do so, push the test button. It may take a second to start, but it should give off a loud siren sound. If the sound is weak or it doesn’t make one, first replace the batteries. If that doesn’t work, make sure to replace it as soon as possible.
Schedule A Whole-Home Electrical Inspection
A whole-home inspection by a licensed electrician is the easiest way to ensure peace of mind about your home. They will be able to test the parts of your electrical system that you may not know or can’t safely test yourself. The electrician will inspect areas such as your electrical panel, main electric service, the wiring in your home, and your furnace, AC, and water heater electrical connections. From there, they should give you a rundown of any issues they found, why they are an issue, and how you can resolve them. Always make sure to ask questions about anything you might find confusing. Any good electrician will emphasize electrical safety, and education is the first step in meeting that goal. If you have any questions big or small about the electrical system in your home, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Remember, we care more because your family is our family too!